Embraer Legacy 650: Best Value In Transatlantic Class

Credit: Embraer Executive Aircraft

Think of the Legacy 650 and 650E, respectively built from 2011 to 2016 and 2016 to 2019, as mini BBJs. They’re tough, capable jetliners converted into business aircraft. They can fly 8 passengers 3,800+ nm, or London-New York. Compared to the Legacy 600, the 650 has 2,600 lb. more fuel capacity for 600 additional miles. It also has higher thrust, more fuel-efficient engines, a stronger wing with bolt-in winglets, and larger landing gear and rolling stock to handle a nearly 4,000 lb. weight increase.

These aircraft offer three-zone cabins, a large aft lavatory with windows and a 240-cu.-ft., full-time access, aft baggage compartment, by far the largest in its class with no inflight access restrictions. There’s another 46 sq. ft. of carry-on luggage room. They typically are configured for 13 passengers. Competitive-range aircraft have larger cross-sections, but the Legacy 650/650E have 42.4-ft.-long interiors that are nearly as long as that of the Falcon 8X. 

The 650 has a single aft lav whereas the 650E comes with a second crew lav up front and upgraded Honeywell Primus Elite avionics. Both aircraft have much upgraded interior furnishings and lower interior sound levels compared to Legacy 600. Embraer did all the business jet conversion work in-house, adding aux belly tanks, developing several interior configurations, increasing operating weights and refining exterior features to slash drag. The fully integrated product is type certified as the EMB-135BJ.

The Legacy 650 is ideal for charter because it has unsurpassed dispatch reliability, easy maintenance and rock-bottom operating costs, say David Rimmer, president of New York-based Talon Air and seconded by Ralph Michiell, president of Custom Jet Charters in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Legacy 650 can be viewed as a flying Checker cab. It’s no luxury limo, even though it’s comfortably outfitted. It flies low, slow and short, compared to three-section cabin jets from Bombardier, Dassault and Gulfstream. It initially climbs only into the mid-30s and cruises at Mach 0.74/425 KTAS on long-range missions. So, plan on 9 hr. inflight for a 3,800-nm mission. On shorter trips, bank on 400-420 kt. block speeds. Average fuel burn is 2,000 lb./hr. and direct operating cost (DOC) is $4,250 per hour, assuming 2+00 average missions and 500 flight hours per year.

Interior fit and finish is much improved from early Legacy 600s. Almost all aircraft are configured with a forward galley, a forward four-chair club section, a central four-seat conference grouping flanked by a cross-side credenza and an aft section with a convertible sofa/sleeper plus two facing chairs. The externally serviced, aft lavatory is spacious and it has left and right side windows that provide bright daylight illumination. An optional forward crew lav is available, but it shares galley space when its privacy doors are deployed. It also adds weight up front to an already nose-heavy aircraft.

Cockpits feature Honeywell Primus Elite avionics with flat panel displays. The Legacy 650E comes with standard autothrottles and docking stations for iPads. The aircraft is Cat-II approach capable. Swift Broadband or Gogo Biz systems provide internet connectivity. 

Since its commercial precursor was designed for quick turnarounds, checklists are short and systems are highly automated. Notably, a reduced takeoff thrust rating decreases engine wear and thus maintenance expense. Full rated thrust is available if available either runway length or climb gradient are factors.

The Legacy 650 has improved runway performance compared to Legacy 600. Assuming standard day conditions, takeoff field length (TOFL) is 3,573 ft. for a 1,000-nm mission. At MTOW, TOFL is 5,741 ft. for an ISA departure and 7,979 ft. when departing BCA’s 5,000-ft. elevation, ISA+20C airport. The Rolls-Royce AE3007 engines are flat-rated to ISA+15C, so hot-and-high departures may result in reduced weight takeoffs.

Basic maintenance intervals are 500 hr. or six months and 900 flight cycles/2,000 flight hours or 24 months with +/-20 flight hours and +/-15 day tolerances. Heavy maintenance, such as corrosion inspections, are due at 4,000 flight hours or 48 months, 8,000 flight hours or 72 months and 4,000 flight cycles or 96 months. Embraer Executive Care (EEC), a comprehensive maintenance program, provides predictable operating costs, including coverage for APU, avionics, tires, brakes, batteries, cabin systems and optional equipment. The top-tier EEC enhanced program runs about $24,000 per month and $880 per hour for aircraft out of the 10-year warranty. Rolls-Royce corporate care runs close to $640 per hour for both engines, according to Ron Dech, president of Business Aircraft Solutions in Merritt Island, Florida.

The Legacy 650’s main competitors are Bombardier Challenger 850, a converted CRJ200, having a longer and wider cabin but poorer runway performance, plus purpose-built business jets such as the Gulfstream IV, IV-SP and G450, Bombardier Challenger 601 and Dassault Falcon 900B.

While the Legacy 650 has comparatively low DOCs, unrivaled dispatch reliability and airline-frugal replacement parts costs, Minielli and Dech both say that Embraer’s product and engineering support, along with parts availability, need improvement.

Early 2011 models sell for as little as $10 million and 2019 models command more than $12 million.

Fred George

Fred formerly was senior editor and chief pilot with Business & Commercial Aviation and Aviation Week's chief aircraft evaluation pilot. He has flown left seat in virtually every turbine-powered business jet produced in the past three decades.